My experience at Camp Miri Piri is hard to put into words, but I will try my best.
What inspired me to attend the camp was that I wanted to experience a Sikh camp and I also wanted to visit Española and meet the Sangat there.
I come from a Punjabi Sikh family and my parents have always taken us to the Gurdwara on weekends and they took time to sit with us and tell us stories about our Gurus and teach us various Banis. Yet, my interest was more about friends and other things. Things remained like this, but then everything started to change a few years ago.
I have spent the last two years easing out of my old life and learning more about Sikhism. Guru Ji blessed me by bringing me closer to him. Day by day my interest grew and I would spend a lot of time on the Internet researching about Sikhism. I had so many questions and I was amazed at their answers. My thirst kept increasing. Guru Ji had planted his seed within me and he was showering me with his love daily. To some, my constant hunger for more knowledge and understanding seemed a bit odd, but for me, not searching for the answers to my questions seemed odd and was not an option. I felt that I had wasted so many years away from Guru Ji and the teachings, but I eventually learnt that those years that I spent away from Guru Ji were meant to be. I was meant to go through all of those events in order to be where I am today. Those years allowed me to learn lessons that I needed to learn.
Like many others, I discovered Sikhnet.com and Mrsikhnet.com and fell in love with both sites. I especially loved the videos that they posted online. I would visit both sites almost daily and couldn’t get enough of the content. Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogi Ji amazed me from the beginning. He was so straightforward and clear, and what he said hit home and made me aware of things that I needed to work on. About a year after all of this began; it was Yogi Ji’s Birthday celebration at a Yoga Centre near my home. I decided to attend the meditation, and there I met a long-time student of Yogi Ji. Getting to know him inspired me to want to visit New Mexico and spend time with the Sangat there. Eventually I heard of Camp Miri Piri and since I was just graduated from University, I had time for the trip.
I am a shy person by nature, but I knew that travelling alone would help me come out of my shell. I took a shuttle to the Gurdwara and on the shuttle were other students of the camp. Everyone was so friendly and in Chardi Kalaa. We introduced ourselves, and realized that we were coming from all around the world. Arriving at Hacienda De Guru Ram Das, we unloaded our bags and went inside. The Sangat was having langar, and we were greeted with huge smiles and warm hugs. I was overwhelmed because I had only seen the location online, so being there in person was unreal and beautiful. The group of us from the shuttle instantly became friends and we all had langar and then registered. After settling into our rooms, everyone met up in the langar hall for orientation and welcome. Each and every moment moved me and it would take pages and pages to describe everything, so I will go over the main events.
We were staying in houses that were walking distance to the langar hall and Gurdwara, so every morning we would leave as a group and walk over. Walking over was a meditation in itself. Because it was Amrit Vela, the walk was peaceful and quiet and the surroundings reminded me of India. It was very humbling.
One of my favorite parts was reciting the morning Banis with the Sangat. It was so fulfilling and uplifting to be sitting with everyone and reciting the Banis. Bowing Jaap Sahib was challenging, but also very inspiring. Ravi Kaur and Shanti Kaur Khalsa sang so beautifully, and with so much enthusiasm and energy. I truly felt that I was bowing at the feet of Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj.
Kirtan & Hukam:
Every morning we would go to the Gurdwara after doing our Nitnem. One cannot describe the feeling of being in Hacienda De Guru Ram Das. The setting is so beautiful, but the Sangat and their love is what took my breath away. I can’t describe how much I loved every moment of being in the Gurdwara. The Ragis were all amazing and inspiring. I had never heard Ardas being done in that way, and I really enjoyed it. Also, having the Hukamnama translation read afterwards is something I hope all Gurdwaras will incorporate into their routine.
The warrior workout had me excited, but a bit worried when I had first read about it. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do it, but I was excited to try it out. The instructor was very motivating and I enjoyed his style of leading.
The exercises were challenging, but as a group we motivated one another to keep at it. Everyone was so full of energy; it was a lot of fun. I was motivated to try my hardest because they kept reminding us that these were the exercises that Guru Ji had his warriors do.
All three meals of the day were so healthy, fresh and satisfying. You could feel the love in each and every bit. I was really moved when I first experienced the blessing of the food. It was so beautiful to see everyone, young and old, stop what they are doing and participate in the blessing of the food.
Announcement and Q & A:
This was the time for Bibiji and Shanti Kaur to talk to us. I really enjoyed Bibiji’s time with us; she was so loving and kind. She reminded us of the bigger picture and that we need to stay strong with our daily practice. Shanti Kaur is an amazing woman! She is so strong and in Chardi Kalaa. I am so thankful that she was with us every day.
We were blessed to have so many teachers there to teach us. I can’t choose one specific class over the others. Anytime that Chardi Kala Jatha spent with us was amazing. They really know how to connect with the youth, and to relate Sikhism to the rest of the world. They told us stories about the Gurus and made concepts crystal clear by relating them to their personal experiences. They were so inspiring to listen to and they also had a great sense of humor. They emphasized the importance of being a Saint-Solider and gave us advice on how we can achieve this status. The environment was relaxed, and they even gave us time to ask questions. I was deeply moved by the meditation that Chardi Kala Jatha did with us after one of the classes. They played kirtan live for us, and were giving words of encouragement throughout the meditation. It overwhelmed me with emotion and I could feel myself healing.
The variety of events that this camp had was incredible. Snatam Kaur’s concert was so uplifting! The class on Grist Ashram was eye-opening. After watching Guruka Singh Ji online, seeing him in person left me speechless. I really enjoyed how Guruka Ji and Navleen Kaur Ji worked together to teach that class. They both helped teach us about a subject which everyone needs to understand. I learnt many things, and was especially moved by Navleen Kaur’s spirit. The tone of her voice and the look in her eye hit home for me. I felt her love and devotion for Guru Ji. Guruka Singh was so straight forward and clear, and I really enjoyed his sense of humor.
There were so many classes and teachers, each one unique and hard to put into words. Every moment was a blessing!
From the moment I arrived, everyone was so kind and welcoming. Any problem that came up, there was always someone there with a solution. At times I was overwhelmed at the humility and generosity of the Sangat. The camp participants were mostly youth from around the world. It was such a blessing to hear about their lives and why they decided to come to the camp. It felt like a big family and everyone grew close even in such a short period of time.
A bunch of us decided to do kirtan on the last night of the camp. It was so beautiful! The lights were turned low and everyone sat together taking turns doing kirtan. It was a mosaic of backgrounds and faces, yet it was all one. That kirtan was so fulfilling and it was the perfect end to an amazing camp! None of us wanted it to stop, but we knew it was getting late.
I want to thank everyone who helped make this camp possible! I cannot imagine how much seva was done to put this camp together and keep it running smoothly. Words cannot describe the impact that those five days had on me. It was a chance to escape the normal routine and responsibilities back home, meet new people and learn lessons that will stick with me forever!
Guru Ji blessed each of us to attend this camp and I pray that we can take part in something like this again soon! Once again THANK YOU ALL!
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!
– Puneet Kaur